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Tag Archive: Star Wars The Force Awakens


It’s been nearly five years since we first reviewed the award-winning, low-budget sci-fi alien invasion flick Attack the Block.  Now that Jodie Whittaker is in the spotlight for her selection as the next Doctor in the BBC’s Doctor Who, and John Boyega will be returning this December for his second stint as Imperial turned Resistance fighter Finn in Star Wars: The Last Jedi, let’s look back to them working together as co-leads in writer/director Joe Cornish’s modern cult classic.  Attack the Block should be in every sci-fi fan’s arsenal.  When we first reviewed Attack the Block here at borg.com, we compared it to another low-budget British sci-fi/horror mash-up, 1985’s Lifeforce (which co-starred a then less-known Patrick Stewart).  After repeat viewings since then, it’s clear Attack the Block is a much better film, full of action, suspense, humor, and good acting by young actors who all feel very real on-screen.  In 2011 only fans of the actors from the Cornetto films would have noticed it, because of the slightly larger than cameo performance by Nick Frost, one-half of the Simon Pegg/Frost comic duo (Shaun of the Dead, The Fuzz, Spaced, Paul).  Attack the Block was an unknown commodity that didn’t get much reaction at the U.S. box office in 2011 because it was not marketed well and it was not a typical, Hollywood-made sci-fi epic.  It was before its time–it’s Stranger Things, UK style.  It’s Judgment Night and John Carpenter’s original Attack on Precinct 13 meets E.T., if E.T. didn’t have good intentions and Elliot wasn’t a nice little kid.

It takes a bit to warm up to the main cast of Attack the Block.  We follow a teen gang of British kids in masks led by John Boyega’s character Moses as they unabashedly and violently mug a nurse named Sam, played by Jodie Whittaker.  From the beginning Whittaker’s Sam really is the only person in the film we are completely sympathetic toward, despite efforts of the writer to get viewers to understand this gang of kids.  We almost get to the point of sympathy for the others once Sam decides she may very well be killed by aliens if she does not join up with the gang, and this film takes a swing at answering the question: “Under what situation would a victim, however reluctantly, join up with her attacker?”  Violent alien beast invasion, of course!  Despite playing the thug, Boyega had charisma even early on and it’s understandable why he has his own band of followers.  He gets in over his head dealing with a slightly older drug kingpin who “owns the block” and takes the kid under his wing for a drug sale.  His followers are a motley sort. Along with a pair of much younger kids that add some comic relief, and an additional wandering, stoned teenager, they must come together to fight the gang leader and worse—the onslaught of big hairy aliens.

The scarf of a future Doctor!  Jodie Whittaker in Attack the Block.

Six years later, Attack the Block easily holds its own.  For alien invasion film fans, it offers one of the best aliens of any 21st century production–big or low budget—giant dark, furry beasts built like hybrid gorilla/buffalos, with phosphorescent blue fangs, able to leap and spring and climb buildings.  We don’t ever see clear views of these creatures, and that mystery and an overall lack of gore throughout the movie helps form the mystique of these creatures–think the uncertainty of when the shark appears next in Jaws–and it makes them just plain scary as they chase their targets down hallways and up buildings.  They aren’t hive-minded aliens from Alien or conniving predators as in Predator, but they don’t need to be.

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The Comic-Con, cosplay, sci-fi, fantasy, film and television world–and we at borg.com–are mourning the loss today of Carrie Fisher, who passed away at age 60.  For a generation she portrayed the most important heroine we encountered in the Land of Make-Believe because of a phenomenon called Star Wars.

Fortunately for her fans, she was able to bring her Princess Leia, now a General, to a new generation with last year’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

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We’ll look forward to her once again portraying the strong-willed leader once more in Star Wars: Episode VIII, which she had completed filming, next December.

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Today we thank this fine actress for all the great hours we got to spend with her as the most iconic heroine in science fiction, for the individual influence she had on each of us, and for giving us a character that was a role model and force for positivism for so many.

C.J. Bunce
Editor
borg.com

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What a year!  The world’s a changing place and no less so than with the welcome onslaught of new movies, television shows, books, comics, and everything else that entertained us in 2016.  All year long we tried to keep up with the best of what Hollywood had to offer and honed in on the genre content we thought was worth examining.  We went back and looked at it all and pulled together our picks for our annual Best of the Best list.  We watched all of nearly two dozen TV series, and enough of others to know we’d seen enough.  We watched dozens of new movies, reviewed more than three dozen books (and read even more), and kept up with dozens of comic book titles.  We witnessed the 75th anniversary of Wonder Woman, Green Arrow, Archie, and Captain America, the 50th anniversary of Star Trek and Charles Schulz’s Great Pumpkin, Rocky turned 40, and it was the 30th anniversary of Aliens and Labyrinth.  And the Cubs finally won the World Series.

Today we reveal the best genre content of 2016–with our top categories from movies and television Best Sci-Fi Fix, Best Fantasy Fix, Best Superhero Fix, Best Animated Fix, and Best Borg, followed by our Best in Movies picks.  The big winner was Rogue One, taking 13 spots, followed by Doctor Strange with three.  Come back later this week for our TV and print media picks, our special look at Kick-ass Heroines of 2016, followed by our annual borg.com Hall of Fame inductees.

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Best Sci-Fi Fix – Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (Lucasfilm).  Although the franchise is more space fantasy than science fiction, all the elements of the best sci-fi were crammed into Rogue One.  Epic space battles, aliens, and loads of sci-fi technology.  A compelling story.  We’re wagering this film will be a classic we go back to for years to come, upsetting Star Wars: The Force Awakens as the third best of the eight films in the series.  It’s everything a sci-fi fan could want.

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Best Fantasy FixThe Huntsman: Winter’s War (Universal Pictures).  Like Rogue One it was a prequel that was also a sequel.  Better than the original Snow White and the Huntsman, this early 2016 release provided a high-fantasy story rooted in the classic fairy tale, rewarding viewers midway with a surprise change-up.  Three tough female leads, four brave (and funny) dwarves, two epic quests, a fairy tale romance, and elaborate costumes and sets made for a perfect fantasy film.

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Best Superhero FixThe Magnificent Seven (MGM/Columbia Pictures).  When we first reviewed The Magnificent Seven we were surprised it had adapted the Yul Brynner version and Akira Kurosawa’s earlier Seven Samurai so well.  We were even more surprised at how well the cast, and cast of characters, worked together to create a true ensemble piece.  It rivaled every attempt by the studios to make a great superhero team-up, and, but for the Western garb and setting, it rates as the year’s best of the superhero genre.  Runner-up, a close contender for the win was the second appearance of Evan Peters as Quicksilver doing his speedster business slow-motion style again in X-Men: Apocalypse.

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Best Retro FixStranger Things (Netflix).  It’s a TV series that would have made a solid movie hit in 1982.  So many series appear unexpectedly these days with a full season ready to stream immediately.  Most demonstrate why they couldn’t cut it with the networks or a major cable channel.  Not so with some of Netflix’s series, especially the surprise hit Stranger Things.  With a nicely eerie soundtrack, title font, a Twin Peaks-meets Steven Spielberg coming of age film cul-de-sac for the setting, and  John Carpenter meets Stephen King vibe, it’s no wonder Stranger Things was the #1 talked about series this year.  Our favorite part, besides the young heroine of the show, was the attention to throwback clothes, toys, posters, and 1980s pop culture references.  It’s a series we’ll revisit in the future, and look forward to in its second season.

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Best Borg/Best Movie Villain – Darth Vader (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story).  Darth Vader returned in his best scene of the franchise outside of The Empire Strikes Back in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.  It wasn’t James Earl Jones’s return to voice one of the best villains in the history of cinema that grabbed us, but the full-on rampage Vader takes to pursue the stolen Rebel plans in the film’s finale.  Director (and lifelong Star Wars fan) Gareth Edwards gave fans exactly what they wanted, utilizing an impressive UK creature actor Spencer Wilding to do his bidding as the imposing Lord of the Sith.  We also got a peek at what little of the man remained years after his battle with Obi-Wan Kenobi.  We saw inside his cybernetic suit of armor via a scene featuring him floating in a bacta tank.  Darth Vader remains one of the greatest borgs of all time.

Want to know who we picked for best in effects, soundtrack, and best sci-fi, fantasy, comedy, and horror movies of the year?  Take a look after the cut…

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If you haven’t seen the Sideshow Collectibles line-up of premium 1:6 scale figures, then the below gallery is for you.  In the past twelve months Sideshow Collectibles and its Hot Toys brand has released some of the best sculpted figures we’ve ever seen for the Star Wars franchise, beginning with a superb line of Star Wars: The Force Awakens figures.  In the past month we’ve seen even more great figures previewed for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

These movie-accurate collectible figures are specially crafted for the new films, featuring new body designs and armor, highly polished helmets and accessories, sophisticated tailoring of costumes with detailed textures, premium accessories like utility belts with LED lights, lightsaber hilts, character-specific weaponry and poseable add-on hands, and themed figure stands.  And the human figures reflect the actors’ likenesses quite well.

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These previews are a great way to get a first look at the varieties of Stormtroopers coming soon in Rogue One.  Rogue One takes place just before the original Star Wars, so it’s interesting Disney/Lucasfilm included so many new Stormtrooper designs.  Does it add to the film (Star Wars has always been about new, out-of-this-world characters) or is it because fans are going to be wanting to collect them all?

It doesn’t matter because they turned out great.  We’ll see updated Stormtroopers and TIE Fighter Pilots, plus the new Shoretroopers and Death Troopers.  Check out all these figures from Rogue One and The Force Awakens:

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Unlike the animated series Star Wars: The Clone Wars, the canon series Star Wars Rebels takes place in the classic trilogy timeline, where we get to see our favorite characters, like Princess Leia, Darth Vader, Lando Calrissian, C-3PO, and Yoda, with the original actors voicing the characters (Leia excluded) in an era that is the most loved by the fan base.  It takes place five years before Star Wars: A New Hope, and it’s canon, which means all that happens there influences Star Wars Episode VIII and onward.

As one example, if you think Finn (the Stormtrooper who defects to the Resistance in Star Wars: A Force Awakens) is the first famous Star Wars character to defect from the Empire to fight for the good guys, think again.  Season Three has many reasons for Star Wars fans to keep watching.

The biggest news has been revealed in the DisneyXD previews:  Grand Admiral Thrawn becomes a part of Star Wars canon beginning tonight, voiced by Lars Mikkelsen.  Created by Timothy Zahn in the first expanded universe Star Wars trilogy novel, the excellent Heir to the Empire, Thrawn was the rare intelligent Imperial officer like Grand Moff Tarkin.  Dressed in the formal white uniform seen worn by a background actor in the original Star Wars, he is the blue-skinned humanoid who helped rebuild the Empire after the second Death Star was destroyed in Return of the Jedi.  We even see from the preview that his attending ysalimir are back.

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But that’s not all.  There are many other reasons to come back for more:

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Back in 1998, before the Star Wars prequels, PC users were given the first public look at the deleted scenes from Star Wars–the original, Episode IV, A New Hope, etc.  A two-CD-ROM set called Star Wars: Behind the Magic whetted the appetites of fans who were soon going to be able to see a new Star Wars movie for the first time in 16 years.  Deleted scenes?  Lucas shot scenes we hadn’t yet seen?   Finally those still images we only saw as kids in The Star Wars Storybook came to life, like this guy that looked like Clark Gable or Tom Selleck named Biggs Darklighter, with Luke Skywalker and a group of his young friends just hanging out on Tatooine.  Some of the deleted scenes never made it back into George Lucas’s re-worked final canon version of the trilogy.  But the data on those CD-ROMs was unprecedented, and better compiled and searchable than much information available even today on the Internet.

So we were excited to see Industrial Light and Magic release a new Behind the Magic entry this past week, even if only a few minutes long, this time for Star Wars: The Force Awakens.  The reel, posted to YouTube by ILMVisualFX, is a bit of a rollercoaster ride through all the layers of CGI and blue screen work required to create so many locations, special effects, characters, and visual spectacles.  It’s wired up with crazy sound, too, and just might make you dizzy as you fall in and out of scene after scene.

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For fans of Star Wars waiting for the release of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story in December, and the release of the 3D edition of Star Wars: The Force Awakens in November discussed here previously at borg.com, and featuring even more behind the scenes features, this new reel just locks in our fanboy and fangirl need for that 3D edition.

Check out this behind the scenes look at last year’s–and this year’s–biggest film, in Behind the Magic: The Visual Effects of Star Wars: The Force Awakens:

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Certain to provide some last-minute marketing funds for its December release of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Disney/Lucasfilm is dipping once again into fans’ pockets in November as it finally releases the 3D Blu-ray 4-disc edition of Star Wars: The Force Awakens.  For those fans who don’t have a 3D TV configuration, the set offers some new features that may prompt you to buy whether you plan to view the 3D cut or not.

So other than what promises to be an exceptional 3D version of the film on Blu-ray 3D, Blu-ray, Digital HD, and DVD, why might fans go for the Star Wars: The Force Awakens 3D Collector’s Edition?

How about an audio commentary by J.J. Abrams?  The most sought after director of today will no doubt share insight into this incredible directing opportunity, why he made the story choices he did and a behind the scenes view of the cast.  Not enough for you?  Then how about some more deleted scenes–scenes that were rumored to exist but where held back from this April’s standard Blu-ray, DVD, and digital releases.

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A 3D version, an Abrams commentary and more deleted scenes cinches it for us.  But if you want any more how about five new behind the scenes features?  Check them out:

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Star Trek Beyond Fly spot USS Enterprise inside Starbase Yorktown

Review by C.J. Bunce

In the fiftieth year of Star Trek, fanboy Simon Pegg proved that the franchise has never been stronger.  Probably more so than any prior entry in the now 13-movie catalog, Star Trek Beyond found a way to be the most loyal to the original series, with the writers weaving a story you could also find comfortably set within Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek Voyager.  And director Justin Lin showed that an action heavy film can also tell a good story.

Get ready.  Star Trek Beyond, opening this weekend in theaters everywhere, is also the most fun of the Star Trek movies since Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, thanks to clever and witty dialogue and circumstances that put the Bones and Spock relationship at center stage.  By movie’s end, diehard Star Trek fans will find themselves trying to categorize the latest big budget blockbuster against the past even-numbered films, generally regarded as the cream of the crop.  That consideration alone elevates the movie into the top echelon of all Trekdom, a welcome jolt for the franchise.

Better than the admittedly good Abrams contributions Star Trek and Star Trek Into Darkness, Star Trek Beyond taps more subtlely into throwbacks we love, like a look at the Enterprise itself and spacedock in a way we haven’t seen since Star Trek: The Motion Picture and Star Trek III:  The Search for Spock.  And speaking of the original Star Trek III, this third reboot mirrors many key moments from that film, despite having an entirely different plot.

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What does it mean to serve on a ship on a long voyage?  What toll does it take on the captain and his or her crew?  Beginning with a humanitarian mission that we think Jean-Luc Picard would have appreciated, including an in-world guest actress (Sofia Boutella) like none other we’ve seen in Star Trek, featuring a strong actor–Idris Elba–as a brilliantly conceived unique–yet also familiar–villain, and dividing up the crew in twos to highlight the strengths of the characters–Star Trek Beyond is practically flawless.  Star Trek Beyond is not just good Star Trek, it’s great Star Trek.

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Last week Disney and Lucasfilm released information on a new line of Star Wars: The Force Awakens replica props and helmets from PropShop Studio Editions for sale at this link.  These are high-end replicas taking advantage of current 3D scanning imagery, an idea I suggested in an article on 3D printing posted here at borg.com four years ago.  The new line of Star Wars generated plenty of press because the new costume pieces are fairly pricey:  a melted Darth Vader helmet is selling for $3,500 (limited to 500 units), a Kylo Ren helmet is $2,000, a Finn Stormtrooper helmet is $1,750 (limited to 500 units), and Poe Dameron’s X-Wing pilot helmet is $1,500.  The props are similarly priced: Chewbacca’s crossbow is $2,500, Rey’s staff and lightsaber and Kylo’s lightsaber are each $1,500.

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Sound like the holy grail for cosplayers?  Hold that thought.  Here is the description for Finn’s helmet:

  • Created using the original 3D digital data from the actual FN-2187 Stormtrooper Helmet featured in the film in combination with advanced digital manufacturing processes, and then hand-finished by a highly skilled artisan. The original blood marking has been laser scanned and projected onto this helmet, and a special paint effect process has been applied to identically recreate the surface texture pattern.
  • Made of a composition of 3D printing materials, forged items, and cast items
  • Includes a chip to authenticate the serial number that is printed on the Certificate of Authenticity
  • Delivered in an exclusive, custom wooden crate inspired by the packaging used for the original prop
  • Limited Edition of 500
  • Certificate of Authenticity and Authenticity Medallion included

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TFA var cover Phil Noto     TFA var cover Joe Quesada

Are you a fan of Star Wars: The Force Awakens?  How about a comic book adaptation whose quality is nearly as good as that of Marvel’s original trilogy adaptations in the late 1970s and early 1980s?

Star Wars: The Force Awakens, a Marvel six-issue adaptation is coming your way later this month and we have a preview of not only some great variant covers, but previews of interior artwork by Luke Ross.  Chuck Wendig provides the script adaptation for the story.

Variant covers include some beautiful interpretations by Phil Noto and Joe Quesada (above), and John Cassaday and Esda Ribic (below).

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After the break, take a look at some interior pages from Marvel’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Issue #1:

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